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Posts Tagged ‘Nuclear Plant’

Nuclear energy: Atomic power stations out at sea may be better than inland ones

Posted by hkarner - 11. August 2017

Date: 10-08-2017
Source: The Economist

Floating reactors are on their way. Submarine ones may follow

AFTER the events of March 11th 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami led to a meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in Japan, you might be forgiven for concluding that atomic power and seawater don’t mix. Many engineers, though, do not agree. They would like to see more seawater involved, not less. In fact, they have plans to site nuclear power plants in the ocean rather than on land—either floating on the surface or moored beneath it.

At first, this sounds a mad idea. It is not. Land-based power stations are bespoke structures, built by the techniques of civil engineering, in which each is slightly different and teams of specialists come and go according to the phase of the project. Marine stations, by contrast, could be mass-produced in factories using, if not the techniques of the assembly line, then at least those of the shipyard, with crews constantly employed. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Next-Generation Nuclear Power? Not Just Yet

Posted by hkarner - 5. Februar 2017

Date: 04-02-2017
Source: Technology Review

The West is struggling to build out safer reactors, but China shows no such delays.

New kinds of safer, simpler nuclear reactors are having a hard time becoming a reality—at least in certain countries.

Bloomberg reports that the nuclear industry is currently struggling to build out power production facilities that are supposed to make use of new generation III+ pressurized water uranium fission reactors. While generation III reactors have been in use since 1996, the newer „plus“ versions are supposed to incorporate extra safety features and require less operator input.

Problem is, they’re proving rather tricky to actually build. Projects in France, Finland, and the U.S. are running behind schedule and over budget. And newly committed projects, such as the U.K.’s Hinkley Point, are shaping up to be eye-wateringly expensive.

What gives? According to Lake Barrett, a former official at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission who spoke to Bloomberg: “The cost overrun situation is driven by a near-perfect storm of societal risk aversion to nuclear causing ultra-restrictive regulatory requirements, construction complexity, and lack of nuclear construction experience by the industry.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Is Nuclear Power Vital to Hitting CO2 Emissions Targets?

Posted by hkarner - 16. November 2016

Date: 16-11-2016
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Nuclear Power plant ccSupporters say nuclear plants are the best way to transition to a low-carbon future. Others argue the plants are too risky to keep in operation.

New nuclear power plants are rare due to market conditions and rules favoring renewable sources of electricity.

Nuclear power is fizzling.

In recent years, many countries have largely stopped building new nuclear plants and are looking elsewhere for power. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Japan shut down all its nuclear reactors, though a few have restarted since last year. Germany also moved to phase out nuclear power by 2022. (China is a notable exception, with 20 reactors under construction.)

Market conditions heavily favor cheaper fuels such as natural gas over nuclear. And the regulatory climate favors other sources of energy. In the U.S., the Obama administration introduced rules requiring power plants to cut CO2 emissions 32% from 2005 levels by 2030, though President-elect Donald Trump says he will drop that rule. While nuclear plants don’t generate CO2, companies can tap federal tax credits for investing in renewables. What’s more, power companies can sell renewable electricity at higher prices because utilities need wind and solar supply to comply with state rules. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Fail-Safe Nuclear Power

Posted by hkarner - 2. August 2016

Cheaper and cleaner nuclear plants could finally become reality—but not in the United States, where the technology was invented more than 50 years ago.

In February I flew through the interior of a machine that could represent the future of nuclear power. I was on a virtual-reality tour at the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics in China, which plans in the next few years to build an experimental reactor whose design makes a meltdown far less likely. Inside the core—a superhot, intensely radioactive place where no human will ever go—the layers of the power plant peeled back before me: the outer vessel of stainless steel, the inner layer of a high-tech alloy, and finally the nuclear fuel itself, tens of thousands of billiard-ball-size spheres containing particles of radioactive material.

Given unprecedented access to the inner workings of China’s advanced nuclear R&D program, I was witnessing a new nuclear technology being born. Through the virtual reactor snaked an intricate system of pipes carrying the fluid that makes this system special: a molten salt that cools the reactor and carries heat to drive a turbine and make electricity. At least in theory, this type of reactor can’t suffer the kind of catastrophic failure that happened at Chernobyl and Fukushima, making unnecessary the expensive and redundant safety systems that have driven up the cost of conventional reactors. What’s more, the new plants should produce little waste and might even eat up existing nuclear waste. They could run on uranium, which powers 99 percent of the nuclear power plants in the world, or they could eventually run on thorium, which is cleaner and more abundant. The ultimate goal of the Shanghai Institute: to build a molten-salt reactor that could replace the 1970s-era technology in today’s nuclear power plants and help wean China off the coal that fouls the air of Shanghai and Beijing, ushering in an era of cheap, abundant, zero-carbon energy. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Britisches Kontrollamt fällt vernichtendes Urteil zu AKW Hinkley Point

Posted by hkarner - 14. Juli 2016

14. Juli 2016, 18:38 derstandard.at

Das National Audit Office stellte fest, dass Investitionen in erneuerbare Energien billiger wären als das geplante Atomkraftwerk

London/Wien – Erneuerbare Energien wären billiger. Auf diese einfache Formel bringt das National Audit Office (NAO) sein Urteil über das geplante Atomkraftwerk (AKW) Hinkley Point C. Im jüngsten Bericht kommt die staatliche Kontrollbehörde zu einem vernichtenden Urteil über das AKW im Südwesten Englands. Allein bei den Betriebskosten für die beiden Reaktoren ist laut dem britischen Rechnungshof über die Laufzeit mit Zuzahlungen von rund 30 Milliarden Pfund (rund 35 Milliarden Euro) zu rechnen. Vor dem Pfund-Absturz durch das Brexit-Votum wäre es umgerechnet noch teurer geworden. Zuzüglich weiterer Garantien, allen voran dem garantierten Abnahmepreis von 92,50 Pfund je Megawattstunde für 35 Jahre (unabhängig vom aktuellen Strompreis), der dem Betreiber, dem EdF-Ableger NNBG zugesichert wurde, sowie Vorsorgen für den Fall eines AKW-Unfalls, wären Investitionen in den Ausbau von Wind- und Sonnenenergie für die Steuerzahler wohl günstiger, argwöhnt die NAO in ihrem jüngsten Bericht „Nuklearenergie im Vereinigten Königreich“.

Kostenexplosion

Die Baukosten sind in dieser Kostenschätzung noch nicht inkludiert, sie belaufen sich laut EdF-Angaben auf 18 Milliarden Pfund. Darüber hinaus garantiert die Regierung für Anleihen des französisch-chinesischen Konsortiums im Volumen von bis zu zwei Milliarden Pfund. „Wir schätzen, dass die zusätzlichen Zahlungen für Hinkley Point C von 6,1 Milliarden Pfund im Oktober 2013 (als der Bezugspreis fixiert wurde) auf 29,7 Milliarden im März 2016 explodiert sind“, rechnet die Behörde in ihrem Report vor. Überhaupt führe die Realisierung alter Nuklearprojekte zu höheren kurzfristigen Kosten als der Ausbau von Wind- und Solarenergie. Die Entscheidung der Regierung, den AKW-Ausbau weiter zu forcieren fußt demnach mehr auf strategischen denn auf finanziellen Gründen: Atomenergie sei notwendig, um natürliche Schwankungen von Wind und Solar auszugleichen. (ung, 15.7.2016) – derstandard.at/2000041118915/Britisches-Kontrollamt-faellt-vernichtendes-Urteil-zu-AKW-Hinkley-Point

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Sensing the Inevitable, Companies Begin to Adapt to Climate Change

Posted by hkarner - 23. Mai 2016

Date: 23-05-2016
Source: Technology Review

Most have yet to incorporate climate change into their business plans, but a few are finding a way.

Shanghai Tower CCShanghai Tower twists one degree of rotation per floor all the way up to the 121st. The tallest building in Asia, and a symbol of China’s powerful economy, it has a façade constructed of more than 21,000 individual panels. The complex curved design has one very important feature beyond aesthetics. It lowers the pressure that wind places on the building’s exterior, an attribute important for any skyscraper but especially in Shanghai.

Located on the eastern seaboard of China in the lowlands of the Yangtze River Delta, the city is subject to typhoons and winds that can exceed 70 miles an hour. Given a recent uptick in wind storms and other weather disasters—something the head of the China Meteorological Administration has connected to climate change—it makes sense that this $2 billion tower would be designed with such hazards in mind. Surprisingly, however, the need to adapt to long-term climate change is rarely a factor in building design these days.

“Designing a building today, you evaluate the current energy use and historical patterns,” says Ben Tranel, a principal at Gensler, the architectural firm that designed the tower. “It’s hard to say how that will change in 50 years, and how do we design to that? It’s almost as if the building’s in Pittsburgh today but in 50 years it will be in Arkansas.”

Most industries seem to be in a similar spot: aware that climate change is likely to affect their future but not yet planning for it with any consistency or depth. Long reports have been written about the risks that climate change poses to the economy and to business. But despite calls from leading environmentalists for business to lead the next phase of adaptation, the vast majority of companies are barely in the early days of thinking about this issue. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Neue Reaktoren: EU will Atomkraft massiv stärken

Posted by hkarner - 17. Mai 2016

Date: 17-05-2016
Source: SPIEGEL

Nuclear Power plant ccDie EU-Kommission will nach SPIEGEL-ONLINE-Informationen den Bau von Atommeilern vorantreiben. Außerdem sollen neue Mini-Reaktoren entwickelt werden. Insider vermuten hinter den Plänen zwei Motive.

In Deutschland soll 2022 das letzte Atomkraftwerk vom Netz gehen – in Europa hingegen soll die umstrittene Technologie nach dem Willen der EU-Kommission gestärkt werden. Die EU müsse ihre technologische Vorherrschaft im Nuklearsektor verteidigen, heißt es im Entwurf für ein Strategiepapier, das SPIEGEL ONLINE vorliegt. Die Mitgliedstaaten sollen demnach bei der Erforschung, Entwicklung, Finanzierung und beim Bau neuer innovativer Reaktoren stärker kooperieren.

Das Papier soll die Grundlage der künftigen Atompolitik der EU-Kommission sein. Es soll am Mittwoch von den für die Energieunion zuständigen Kommissaren verabschiedet und dann dem EU-Parlament vorgelegt werden. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Energiewende: Die Zukunft verprasst

Posted by hkarner - 12. Mai 2016

Date: 12-05-2016
Source: Die Zeit

Jahrzehnte haben die Energiekonzerne den Markt dominiert. Milliarden wurden verbrannt, die Energiewende ignoriert. Das rächt sich jetzt – Tausende Jobs sind gefährdet.

Einer der größten Brocken der Energiewende ist beiseite geräumt: Seit Ende April ist klar, wie die Entsorgung des strahlenden Mülls deutscher Kernkraftwerke finanziert werden soll. Die größten Risiken übernimmt der Steuerzahler.

Die Stromkonzerne geben ihre Haftung komplett ab. Leicht wird es für sie dennoch nicht. Sie sollen 23,3 Milliarden Euro zahlen: 17,2 Milliarden aus ihren Rückstellungen plus einen Risikoaufschlag von 6,1 Milliarden Euro. Der Aufschlag soll die Inflation und die niedrigen Zinsen ausgleichen, die das Fondskapital in den kommenden Jahren am Markt erwirtschaften kann.

Die Summe übersteige ihre wirtschaftliche Leistungsfähigkeit, beklagen sich E.on, RWE, Vattenfall und EnBW. Selbst wenn das nicht stimmen sollte: Die Energiewende wird den Stromkonzernen auch in Zukunft noch einiges kosten und schon heute geht es ihnen schlecht. Sie machen Verluste, haben viel Geld in gescheiterten Expansionsprojekten im Ausland verloren, schleppen enorme Atom- und Kohle-Altlasten mit sich herum und müssen dennoch, um ihr Geschäft wenigstens teilweise zu bewahren, den Umbau in grüne, flexiblere Unternehmen vorantreiben. Wie groß sind ihre Chancen, das zu schaffen? ZEIT ONLINE beantwortet die wichtigsten Fragen.  Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Nuclear Power Must Make a Comeback for Climate’s Sake

Posted by hkarner - 6. Dezember 2015

Date: 06-12-2015
Source: Scientific American

James Hansen and other climate scientists argue for more reactors to cut coal consumption

Nuclear Power plant ccScientists have now turned their attention to what would be needed after 2030 to meet a 2 C goal: an energy system transformation that emits less carbon. For this, all technology options need to be on the table, including nuclear, the scientists said.
Credit:

James Hansen, former NASA climate scientist, and three other prominent climate scientists are calling for an enlarged focus on nuclear energy in the ongoing Paris climate negotiations.

„Nuclear, especially next-generation nuclear, has tremendous potential to be part of the solution to climate change,“ Hansen said during a panel discussion yesterday. „The dangers of fossil fuels are staring us in the face. So for us to say we won’t use all the tools [such as nuclear energy] to solve the problem is crazy.“

He was joined by Tom Wigley, a climate scientist at the University of Adelaide; Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science; and Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The future of nuclear energy: Half-death

Posted by hkarner - 30. Oktober 2015

Date: 30-10-2015
Source: The Economist

Nuclear power emits no greenhouse gases, yet it is struggling in the rich world

Three mile islandPENNSYLVANIA has played a big role in the history of American energy. Coal has been mined there since the 1760s (Pennsylvania is sometimes called “the coal state”). In 1859 Edwin Drake drilled a rickety well that set off America’s first oil rush. More recently it has produced more natural gas than any other state except Texas, thanks to the vast Marcellus shale that runs beneath it. And though it barely advertises the fact, Pennsylvania is also America’s second-largest provider of nuclear energy—despite the near-disaster at Three Mile Island, a nuclear plant that suffered a partial meltdown of one of its reactors in 1979 (pictured, right), killing no one but scaring millions.

Today Pennsylvania is again at the centre of a shift in the energy industry and Three Mile Island is caught up in it. An abundance of natural gas piped out of the Marcellus shale in recent years has helped push power prices down so sharply that nuclear energy has struggled to compete in some parts of America. Three Mile Island’s remaining reactor, Unit One, is one of many fighting to survive—but this time its troubles are about costs, not safety.

In America and Europe slumping commodity prices are adding to the burden on nuclear power that was already growing after the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in Japan. America’s shale revolution, Europe’s growing supply of subsidised renewable energy and sluggish electricity demand in both markets have sharply cut wholesale power prices. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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